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Native American Legends: Bad Spirit

Name: Bad Spirit
Tribal affiliation: Cayuga, Tuscarora, Oneida
Native names: Hah-gweh-da-et-gah, Enigonhahetgea, Enigohatgea; Ka'tikenhra:ksen, Got-ti-gah-rak-senh
Also known as: Bad Mind, Left-Handed Twin
Type: God of evil, death spirit
Related figures in other tribes: Tawiscara (Huron/Iroquois), Molsem (Wabanaki)

In the mythology of some Cayuga and Tuscarora communities, Bad Spirit is one of the Twin Gods, sons of the mother goddess Sky Woman. In the mythology of other Iroquois tribes, Sky Woman was the grandmother of the legendary twins instead. Bad Spirit was the antagonist of humankind, creating natural disasters, disease, and poisonous animals; according to some stories, he even brought death into the world. Meanwhile his brother, Good Spirit, opposed everything he did and tried to help the people. According to most versions of the myth the two brothers eventually fought, and Good Spirit was victorious.

Other details of the Bad Spirit myth vary greatly depending on the community and the storyteller. In some versions, Bad Spirit is nearly identical to the Huron Tawiscara, and kills his mother in childbirth by bursting through her side. In many versions, Sky Woman survives and tries to mediate between her sons-- most often she advocates for balance, saying that there must be both good and evil in the world, but sometimes she takes the part of Good Spirit and helps to imprison Bad Spirit, and other times she favors Bad Spirit and rejects Good Spirit for defeating him.

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Bad Spirit Stories

* Three versions of the Iroquois Creation Story:
    A comparison of three Iroquois myths about the birth of Good Mind and Bad Mind.
*The Birth of Good and Evil:
    Oneida myth about Sky Woman's twin grandchildren.
*Haudenosaunee Creation Story:
    A different Oneida version of the myth about Good Spirit and Bad Spirit.
*The Creation:
    Cayuga myth about Sky Woman and her sons Good Spirit and Bad Spirit.
*The Creation:
    Tuscarora creation myth including the defeat of Enigonhahetgea (Bad Mind.)
*Seek Your Father:
    Seneca legend about the Good-Minded and Bad-Minded Twins.

Recommended Books of Related Native American Legends

The Oneida Creation Story:
    Several versions of the Oneida myth of creation.
Midwinter Rites of the Cayuga Long House:
    Book on the mythological traditions, ceremonies, and religious life of the Cayuga Indians.
Oneida Iroquois Folklore, Myth, And History:
    Book of Oneida legends and oral history.
Iroquois Indian Myths And Legends:
    Collection of legends from the Cayuga, Oneida, and other Iroquois tribes.

Additional Resources

 People of the Longhouse
 Iroquois spirits
 Iroquois tribes
 Cayuga language
 Oneida language
 Cayuga pronunciation
 New York Indian community
 Northeastern Woodlands
 Iroquoian tribes



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